“You’re not a normal mom.”
He said this to me while we were in the drive through at Taco Bell. It was a before-dinner snack, bean burritos that we scarfed down en route from baseball practice to home. Yeah, we can eat burritos at six because we probably won’t eat dinner until nearly eight. Not my most brilliant dietary decision, but I’ve discovered I’m waaay past trying to get my kids to eat their vegetables and I’m not really monitoring their before dinner snacking habits.
I’m more concerned with getting them to understand their true value in Christ and in helping them learn to take on stress in small doses and teaching them how to show up for practice ready to hustle with an attitude that says, “I’m here for the team”. I’ve climbed many mommy mountains over the years, wasted priceless energy on the wrong things and found myself freaking out over all the minutia of things like science projects and halloween costumes.
The view from here, after eighteen years of hands-on motherhood (with another ten to go before the nest is emptied of our little flock), after a car wreck that left me fighting for my life and learning to walk again after months of using a walker, after numerous financial mistakes, after multitudes of mealtime chaos, hundreds of diapers, thousands of loads of laundry, four minivans and two learners permits, well, lets say the view is great. My memory is hazy, but the view of the future is more finely focused on the things that matter.
Apparently, normal moms pack the children lunches and buy team sweatshirts to wear at the game. Normal mom’s don’t make inappropriate comments at the dinner table. Normal moms bring in treats to school on their kids’ birthdays.
I’m not normal. I am severely flawed, rather funny, infuriatingly insightful (no one gets away with lying around here) and at times, incredibly selfish. These kids of mine see all that I am, faults and all, and love me anyway, because I loved them first and fierce and full. It’s not perfect, but our view is cleared of the muck of pretense.
The other night, my son informed me at three o’clock that at seven there would be a baseball awards dessert at school. We needed to be there. That meant that I needed to get dinner ready and rearrange my after-school running around so that he could get the certificate that he participated in JV baseball. We were a little late and the cake was already cut, but we made it.
His coaches talked up each player, honored their strengths and thanked the parents. Two distinct phrases hit me like a punch from the head coach’s speech:
“Baseball is all about the opportunity to fail.
The best way to succeed in baseball is to find your strength, your place, and pursue it 100%.”
Um, wasn’t coach talking about life?
It’s brilliant, really. Life is all about the opportunity to fail.
In baseball, a player shows up knowing that he is just about as apt to strike out, miscalculate the infield bounce, run too slowly, or swing too soon at the breaking pitch as much as he is to make the winning catch or lay down a sweet bunt. In life, if we show up ready to be part of the team, ready to put it all out there for everyone to see, knowing that failure is just as certain as success then maybe, just maybe, we can have some fun while we’re at it.
And the second pearl of coach-wisdom, that piece about finding your place and pursuing it….? Priceless.
How much time do we spend fretting and frowning and raging about things that simply, honestly don’t matter? And how often do we find ourselves restless and discontent and wondering if what we do every day is valuable at all, to anyone?
When we find our position, whether that happens to be in the suburbs or the slums, at school or in the office, driving the minivan filled with graham crackers and kids or packing up and moving to Africa to serve as a missionaries, we can live it fully and operate within our strengths. The abundant life that Jesus promised has something to do with this principle.
To trust myself to play my position and leave it out there on the field of daily life — all my love, all my grace, all my truth and wisdom from my years of living and the experiences, bad and good, that make me unique and gifted and perfect for the position — that is living the miraculous, moving in what Eugene Peterson in The Message calls the “unforced rhythms of grace”. Because trusting myself comes directly from trusting God who gave me all that love and grace and truth and all the bad and good experiences from his loving hands. I just need to show up and take my position.
When we arrived home after our detour to Taco Bell I asked the other three kids if I was a “normal mom”. In unison they chimed – no! (Do they discuss this when I’m not around?) But when I asked, “Do you wish I were a normal mom?” the answer was a downright resounding: No!
And the view from here, seeing their matching dark brown, almond eyes and crinkled-nosed laughing faces, shines fresh with certain failure, but not defeat. I will never be normal, but I will show up for the game, ready to give my everything to the position I’m playing and pray for grace and perfect love to cover my multitude of mistakes, bean burritos and all.
Linked up with Lisa Jo Baker for 5-Minute Friday – the word for the week: View.